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August 26, 2014

Thousands of UC Merced students are back this week

Rolling suitcases, mini-refrigerators and ramen noodles made their return to UC Merced this week, along with the nearly 900 students who returned to dorms on Tuesday.

Rolling suitcases, mini-refrigerators and ramen noodles made their return to UC Merced this week, along with nearly 900 returning students who moved back into the dorms on Tuesday.

The students and their families shuffled their belongings around during “move-in day” on Tuesday. Most of the freshmen students moved in on Sunday.

Gloria Vang, a 22-year-old senior, said this will be her second year in the dorms, because she transferred in last year. “I love living here on campus,” she said. “It’s easier and you actually get to meet more people.”

Vang, a business management student, said not having to drive around provides her with extra free time. Originally from Sacramento, she said life in Merced is “nice and quiet.”

Standing in the parking lot and unloading her car, she said she was looking forward to meeting her new roommates.

Also moving in again – because it’s “convenient” – was Vanessa Sanchez, 20, a senior. The San Lorenzo chemistry student said being in walking distance of classes and never having to worry about cooking makes dorm life uncomplicated.

Jose Sanchez, her father, said moving his daughter more than 100 miles away was no big deal, even during her freshman year. “Nah, we were ready for it,” the 50-year-old said.

Having his daughter choose UC Merced over other campuses delighted him, he said, “because there’s not a lot of distractions.”

Brenda Ortiz, a spokeswoman for UC Merced, said 2,129 students live on campus, which includes the 1,243 who moved in for the first time.

Hundreds of students also participated Tuesday morning in a UC Merced tradition when they crossed the Scholars Lane Bridge, a symbolic gesture for incoming freshmen and transfers.

The university expects to see an enrollment of 6,360 this year. The official census is conducted in the third week of the semester.

The week might also mark the return of good business. Many area business owners have said they see a bump in sales during the school year, whether that be from downtown nightlife, big-box store shoppers or local restaurant diners.

The university will take several steps this year toward its 2020 Project, with the goal of reaching 10,000 students by 2020. The plan is to have 1,000 of them studying at the graduate level.

This year will see a number of planning moves for expansion at UC Merced, including picking a strategic partner and drawing up plans for a new office building downtown.

Classes resume Thursday.

Miriam Gaytan, 21, was helping some friends move into their dorm rooms Tuesday. The senior, who is from Modesto, said she’s excited about what the new year will bring. “Oh, my gosh, I am so ready,” she said. “I’m so excited to do all my activities and make this year worth it, because it’s my last one.”

Gaytan, who majors in Spanish and works on campus, said she lives off campus in Merced. Though her family is just up the road, she wanted to develop some independence and keep distractions at an arm’s length.

“It’s nice living in Merced,” she said. “It’s very quiet. It’s very homey.”

Dozens of activities and orientations are planned through the end of the week for students. They can all be found on the university’s website at

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